Flight silhouettes

Head features

UK Birds of Prey



Buzzards have dark brown eyes. They have quite a substantial beak compared to hawks but nothing compared to eagles! The nostril is a simple oval opening.In flight they spend a lot of time soaring high and calling with a "mew", not unlike a cat.They hold their wings outstretched and the individual feathers of the wing tips can be clearly seen.The tips of the wings are held slightly higher forming a "v" shape when viewed head on. They often look very big but their wing span is only just over half that of an eagle. More about UK buzzards


Eagles too have dark brown eyes. The whole of their head seems to focus on the massive, powerful beak. Eagles spend some time soaring, their wings are held flat and slightly straighter than those of a buzzard. The nostril is similar to that of a buzzard. More about UK eagles


Hawks have pale, straw-coloured eyes when thay are young. As they age the eyes turn through yellow to orange and even red in adult goshawks. In flight their silhouette shows relatively short wings and a long tail with some of the individual flight feathers visible at the tips of the wings. The beak is quite short with a simple oval nostril. More about UK hawks


Falcons have large dark eyes that often look black but their iris is dark brown. The silhouette in flight shows long, pointed wings with a relatively short tail. The beak is quite short but has a distinct "notch" in the upper mandible just where the hooked tip meets the lower mandible. The nostril is very distinctive, if you are close enough to see it. It has a cone in its centre which controls air flow into the lungs when flying at high speed. More about UK falcons.


A kite's silhouette shows long wings with a long tail and small head. The red kite's tail has a very distinctive fork in it. The head is quite "flat" looking compared to buzzards and the eyes are yellow, the beak is similar however. More about UK kites


Harriers have a very buoyant flight on long wings and with a long tail. It spends most of its time in the air flying back and forth across the ground not very high up, occasionally almost stopping and hovering like a kestrel before dropping on to their prey. The head is almost owl-like, with glaring eyes that are usually yellow. Their beak is similar to the hawk family. More about UK Harriers


Ospreys are quite unmistakable. In flight their long wings are virtually always bent with a few flight feathers seperated at the tip and their tail is quite small.The eyes are a bright yellow/orange with a black stripe through them. They also have a small crest that is sometimes raised. Their beak is quite a uniform dark colour unlike most other UK birds of prey. As they eat fish they are usually to be found near lakes, rivers or estuaries. More about the Osprey


The most noticable thing about owls when flying or sitting is their large head. In flight the wings are rounded at the ends. The beak is often hidden by feather tufts. Large facial discs around the eyes are also a key feature of the owl family. More about UK Owls

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